Question: I had sinus surgery 6 weeks ago. When I cough I have a slight pain around my right eye and temple area. Is eye pain after sinus surgery common and should I be concerned about this?
Having not been at your surgery, I can’t answer specifically. However, anatomically this makes sense. The ethmoid sinuses are a labyrinth of cells between the eye and the nose. Frequently, sinus surgery involves opening up these cells into one large chamber to allow for better drainage. Coughing raises the air pressure in the nose and can increase the pressure around the eye, in an area made sensitive by recent surgery. I would expect this type of eye pain after sinus surgery not to be a permanent problem.
One of the rare problems we fear from sinus surgery would be if an opening were made through the thin bone (lamina papyrcea- or paper thin wall) which separates these sinuses from the eye. Should this occur, one could have visual changes or a feeling of air in the tissues around the eye when coughing. If that happens, contact your surgeon, urgently.
However, barring those problems, this seems like it is most likely just a normal healing process. These concerns, though, are quite important and should be addressed to your surgeon, to make sure that you are having a successful healing process.
Robert L. Pincus MD
NY Sinus Center